Tokyo Insider Experiences

japantokyojapan106533761Tokyo, Japan is a city of paradoxes, with imperial majesty set against the exciting pace of cutting-edge trends in fashion, art, technology and food. You’ll find high-rises that hide the city’s best sushi bars near cobblestone streets that seem straight from Europe. Woven together, these dissonances make this modern wonderland a remarkable place to experience.  Japan’s most fascinating discoveries are not highlighted on a map but rather found behind closed doors, open only to those who know enough to ask.

Shinjuku, an area known for architecture and nightlife, contains many hidden culinary gems. Don’t miss lunch at Sushi Sho, discreetly housed in the Yorindo office building. The esteemed chef, Keiji Nakazawa, creates just 20 bara chirashi sets – a style of sushi where fish and vegetables are diced, flavored and served in a bowl over sushi rice – daily, along with his regular menu. Shinjuku Golden Gai, an enclave of six alleyways, is comprised of more than 200 exclusive bars, clubs and restaurants. Many are found behind unmarked doors and have just a handful of seats, hosting affluent artists, businessmen and Japanese celebrities. We’ll arrange a private guide to help you navigate this area and gain access into these clandestine venues themed by era and interest, from jazz to horse races to Parisian art. Another trend-spotter favorite is Marunouchi, known as the “Wall Street of Tokyo,” tucked between the Tokyo Train Station and the Imperial Palace. Exit the Central Gate and walk one block to Nakadori Avenue, a street of designer shops, wine bars, cafes and bakeries removed from the hectic pace of the commercial center. Before leaving, enjoy a glass of wine and sweeping views of the city at Rigoletto Wine and Bar on the seventh floor of the Shin-Marunouchi building.

You can’t go to Tokyo without enjoying the fashion mecca Shibuya. For a more insider experience, walk the charming neighborhood of Daikanyama on Shibuya’s western edge, with its trendy boutiques, galleries and eateries. Down the hill from Daikanyama and along the cherry tree-lined Meguro River sits Nakameguro, an upscale neighborhood with a European feel. You’ll uncover new restaurants, local ceramic designers and galleries. Kijima restaurant specializes in kakuni (simmered pork belly) and nikujaga (beef, potato and onion stew) served tableside by your own kimono-clad waitress. If you have a sweet tooth, head to Higashiya, a refined confection and teashop selling artful mochi, a traditional Japanese sweet made from pounded rice paste.

We can to take you beyond the bustling city centers to hidden neighborhoods where you can experience the cultural wonders that remain elusive to so many international travelers.

 

Family Vacations Close to Home

familytravel455620841You needn’t travel far for incredible adventures that the whole family can enjoy right here in North America. Whether you have little ones, teens or a multi-generational mix, this diverse continent has something for everyone, from stunning natural landscapes and wide-open country ranges to historical landmarks and amusing theme parks. To help you dream big, we’ve come up with a few family vacation ideas that manifest playful childhood fantasies for kids and adults alike.

North American national parks are home to countless exotic creatures, from alligators in the Everglades to bears in Yellowstone National Park. Of course, plenty of wildlife can be seen during a visit to city park zoos, like the San Diego Zoo or at reserves such as Fossil Rim Wildlife Center just outside of Dallas, where you can enjoy a private family tour and encounters with curious giraffe and ostriches. For another family quest, discover Adventures by Disney’s “Denali National Park, Anchorage & Kenai Peninsula Family Vacation,” a week long tour to Alaska, including a visit to a dog sled kennel, a jet boat excursion to a trapper camp, and a cruise through the Kenai Fjords to see otters, seals and an up-close look at bald eagles at a local conservation center.

For an ocean exploration underscored by indulgence, plan a trip to Southern California. Keep an eye out for seven species of whales and dolphins while cruising in Dana Point Harbor, then retire to the comfort and class of The St. Regis Monarch Beach for spa services and ocean view dining.

Be a Cowboy or Cowgirl 

The spirit of the Wild West lives on in the old cowboy towns and cattle ranches of the Great Plains. To experience it firsthand, take your family to the Cowboy Capital of the World in Bandera, Texas, hidden within beautiful Hill Country. Catch the Cowboy Capital Rodeo, browse the Frontier Times Museum and ride horses at Dixie Dude Ranch; then, bed down amidst casual luxury at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa, set on the grounds of the Rogers-Wiseman Ranch.

To see even more of the American West, we recommend Tauck Bridges’ “Cowboy Country” tour, from the Grand Tetons to Mt. Rushmore. Experience the heyday of the Wild West in Cody, Wyoming, founded by Buffalo Bill himself. Browse the museums and cheer on the cowboys at the local rodeo. The tour culminates with an opportunity for horseback riding and an overnight stay at a real dude ranch, The Ranch at Ucross in the Bighorn Mountains.

History

Nothing brings learning to life like visiting the sites where historic events took place. In Boston, retrace the steps of the American Revolution along the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile walking path that connects the city’s most celebrated sites. Then, admire the view of the Tea Party Ships from your room at the gorgeous InterContinental Boston, with a prized waterfront vista of this revolutionary attraction.

In Washington, D.C., visit the Smithsonian, the world’s largest museum and research complex. Afterwards, explore the streets and behold the marble monuments that honor our nation’s fallen heroes and respected leaders. Then retire to Fairmont Washington, D.C. hotel in Georgetown where your family can spread out in the newly appointed 1,100 square-foot Magnolia Suite.

For a broad overview of early American history, Trafalgar’s “Trails of Liberty” hits the historic highlights of the Mid-Atlantic States, from the earliest English settlement at Jamestown to colonial Williamsburg to Independence Hall in Philadelphia. A professional Travel Director escorts you throughout this eight-day tour to places such as Pennsylvania’s Amish Country – with a sweet history detour to Hershey’s Chocolate World – and ensures that your family is privy to one-of-a-kind experiences like the fascinating Historical Highlight Dinner in Gettysburg.

Theme Parks 

Your family adventure is as unlimited as your imagination. Spend a day at the quaint TrainTown in Sonoma, California, riding the rails, exploring their miniature Old West and feeding alpacas, goats and ducks at the petting zoo. Later, enjoy the evening sipping wine and soaking in the waters at The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa.

With four theme parks and two water parks, Orlando, Florida’s Walt Disney World® lives up to its title, “The Most Magical Place on Earth.” Many park goers claim that the highlight is still the original Magic Kingdom® park, but this legendary park keeps getting bigger and better, most recently with the addition of the New Fantasyland. Now your children can step into lush, life-size reproductions of the settings of their favorite animated films, participating in a live narration of Beauty and the Beast or meeting The Little Mermaid’s Ariel in her grotto. On the other side of the U.S., your family can experience Disneyland® Resort’s recently reimagined Disney California Adventure Park. Race over to the park’s 12-acre expansion, Cars Land, to experience three new attractions from this Pixar animated hit. We can arrange back-stage tours, entry to private events and exclusive access to see how Disney magic is made.

 

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